05 February 2012

Rationale: 20th-Century Americanism

I have titled this list "Americanism" rather than "American Literature" for a number of reasons, and with a number of effects. First, and most obviously, this list draws on texts - on speeches, legislation, and essays, as well as novels and books of poetry - that might more typically be organized into separate archives or even disciplines. I have drawn these texts together because they speak not just to a literary tradition, or a cluster of literary traditions, but to the outline of a (necessarily) radically heterogeneous and contradictory mode of being. I would position this mode as, primarily, one which operates in the register of place, in ways that are expanded on in my theory rationale and heightened in my special topics rationale. The struggle over, against, or with place is a unifying thread through the various texts and types of texts on this list. This thread sometimes takes the form of an emphasis on borders and surfaces, sometimes of an emphasis on identities, sometimes on (anti-)histories, sometimes (though, I believe, less often than is generally suggested) on networks. Often, and most interestingly and productively, it takes the form of the intersection of all or several of these things.

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